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A greener commercial aviation technology may be on the horizon.
NASA and Boeing will work together on the Sustainable Aviation Project to build, test, and fly a single-aisle aircraft to reduce emissions this decade, according to an announcement from the agency on Wednesday.
“Since the beginning, NASA has been with you when you travel. NASA dared to go farther, faster, and higher. In doing so, NASA made flight more sustainable and dependable. It’s in our DNA,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
“Our goal is that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a large-scale demonstrator will help lead to future commercial aircraft that are more fuel efficient, with benefits for the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and passengers around the world. If we are successful, we may see these technologies in aircraft that are Audiences take it to heaven in the 2030s.”
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The first test flight of this experimental aircraft is set in 2028. The goal, Nelson said, is for the technology to serve nearly 50% of the commercial market with short- to medium-haul single-aisle aircraft.
Airlines are largely dependent on single-aisle aircraft, which account for nearly half of aviation emissions worldwide, according to NASA. Developing new technology to reduce fuel use could support the Biden administration’s goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as laid out in the US Aviation Climate Action Plan.
Boeing estimates that demand for new single-aisle aircraft will increase by 40,000 aircraft between 2035 and 2050.
The design NASA and Boeing are working on could reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% compared to today’s most efficient aircraft, according to the agency.
It’s called the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing Concept, which is based on long, thin wings held by diagonal struts that connect the wings to the aircraft. The shape of the design creates less resistance, which means less fuel is burned.
The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator program will also include other environmentally friendly aviation technologies.
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“NASA is working toward an ambitious goal of developing game-changing technologies to reduce aviation energy use and emissions over the coming decades toward the aviation community’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Bob Pierce, Associate Administrator at NASA Aeronautics and Space Administration. Research Thesis Directorate, in a statement.
“The Transonic Truss-Braced Suite is the kind of transformative concept and investment we will need to meet those challenges, and most importantly, the technologies demonstrated in this project have a clear and viable path to inform the next generation of single-aisle aircraft, benefiting everyone who uses the transport system.” aerial”.
The benefits of increasing the wing’s aspect ratio have been known for a long time, Pearce said, but the challenge of structuring the design required advances in materials and construction to get to that point of development.
By partnering on the project, NASA and Boeing could take more risks than the aerospace industry could He said.
“This is an experimental plane,” he said. “This is not a commercial development of an aircraft that passengers will be flying in today. The reason we need to do this is because this is a high-risk technology. We are trying to validate the technology.”
The partnership, backed by a funded Space Act agreement, will draw on technical expertise, facilities and $425 million from NASA over seven years. Meanwhile, Boeing and its partners will contribute the remaining $725 million and technical plan.
“We are honored to continue our partnership with NASA and demonstrate technology that significantly improves aerodynamic efficiency resulting in a significant reduction in fuel burn and emissions,” said Todd Citron, Boeing’s chief technology officer.
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